Here's the thing: Ann was right about Leslie and her steamroller tendencies usually working for the good. Ben was proof of that; even though the breakup had been more difficult than he expected, he was still better off because of Leslie Knope.
And now they're sitting in the back row of a darkened movie theatre, watching Muppets... which, okay, was more fun than he would have admitted. Although come to think of it, Yoda was originally a muppet. The first one, anyway, before the digital version, which had also brought the abomination that was Jar-Jar Binks; proof that technology wasn't always an improvement.
Leslie watching a movie was adorable. More adorable than usual; she gripped his arm when the tension onscreen rose, she hogged the popcorn and made him laugh about it, she occasionally muttered at the screen. Thank goodness the last row was mostly empty; as cute as Leslie was muttering about Kermit's passive reactions, he wouldn't want to subject others to it. (And good Lord, talk about over-identification. Kermit always made Ben sad when he was a kid; now he realized it was because he wasKermit.)
It was their last day of freedom-of a sort. Operation "Figure out how to tell Chris about us" had devolved into make-up sex at every possible moment; good thing that they weren't working together, because Ben didn't know how discreet they could have been at work now that they were planning to go public. Chris had taken an extra vacation day before the Thanksgiving holiday to do some sort of mini-triathlon, so they had a few more days to figure things out.
Ben had done the ten-hour drive up to Minnesota to see his new niece over the Thanksgiving holidays; on his drive back Leslie had texted him with the movie start time and informed him that she had already purchased their tickets. Then she'd sent another text asking him if that had been too much like a steamroller and then anothertext when he didn't send a response right away.
Maybe they would need to talk about that. But not right now, because he was at the movies with Leslie; even though it was the back row, it still counted as a public outing within Pawnee city limits.
Leslie grabbed his hand, and yeah... the adoring crowd of people outside Muppet theatre, plus the final song. It was... good. He surreptitiously swiped his hand under his left eye. Not that he was crying, not really. Leslie blew her nose and then stuffed the napkin into her pocket.
Onscreen the credits started rolling. "Now for the best part," Leslie told him.
He raised an eyebrow. "There's not a post-credit clip for this movie," he told her. "I checked."
"Nerd," she said, and grinned. (She should talk.) Then she grabbed his tie and pulled him toward her. "This part," she told him, and kissed him, letting go of his tie and sliding her fingers into his hair.
Leslie kissed the way she did everything else: with extreme enthusiasm. Her lips were slippery from the butter. Ben pulled back for a moment, grabbed the popcorn bucket from her lap and put it on the floor. He was better at these practical considerations now than he used to be. Not that he'd actually gotten to make out at the movies when he was younger.
"Smart," Leslie said. "I knew I liked you for a reason." She reached for his tie again, but this time she loosened it a bit instead of tugging on it like a leash. "Come here, you," she told him, her voice soft and affectionate.
Ben thought for the umpeenth time that she might break him; Leslie Knope could break him into pieces (again) and he didn't know if he would be able to put himself back together (again). He leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. For a moment she was still smiling. They kissed quietly, just lips to lips. She put one of her hands on his cheek, sliding her fingers back, tracing the curves of his ear, spiraling from the outside edges toward the center.
He shivered. "Leslie," he whispered; he nibbled on her lower lip and sucked, tasting the popcorn salt and sugar from the candy she'd eaten. She darted her tongue against his upper lip; he copied her movements and even though they'd kissed and made out and more dozens of times, he still felt his heart racing.
Ben catalogued her reactions: the way her breath caught as he traced lines up her arm, the slight gasp as he lightly scraped the inside of her elbow with his fingertips, the noise she made in the back of her throat when he nipped at her neck. He got to do this again, watch her lose herself in her reactions and it was him and them and he couldn't believe he had this chance again.
The first song for the closing credits ended and another one started. Suddenly Leslie stood up and then straddled him in his seat. "This is a very bad idea," Ben said.
"I think you mean it's a very good idea," she replied with an I dare you smile.
She was intoxicating. They were making out at the movies. Because apparently they're fifteen now. But he hadn't ever had the chance to make out at the movies when he was fifteen; one part of his brain (the only part currently functioning at cognition level) helpfully supplied the excuse that he should make up for that now.
Her breath was warm as she diligently traced the tendons in his neck with her lips and tongue. Ben slid his hands up her back, sketching her spine through her shirt. They're not quiet now; he could hear their noisy breathing, which meant that the music for the credits had probably stopped.
Something felt... weird. Wrong. (A disturbance in the Force, thought his inner nerd.) Ben opened his eyes and saw that kid Orin staring at them. "God, Orin!" he shrieked. Leslie grabbed his shoulders to keep her balance. "What are you doing here?" Ben demanded.
Orin didn't answer; he held up a broom in a creepily menacing way, then started walking closer. Leslie jumped up and grabbed her jacket. He didn't give her time to put it on; instead he took her hand and tugged, walking them to the exit.
"My popcorn!" she blurted, and started to turn around.
"Leave the popcorn!" he hissed in reply and walked faster.
Ugh. So maybe he hadn't missed out on much by not making out at the movies as a teenager.